Friday, 2 September 2011

Wedding Cake

If I'm honest, purple isn't my very favourite colour. But while I would have preferred this cake to be all "Ivoire" (I'm just that kind of girl) I'm still happy with how it turned out. I think it worked really well in the room.

Its really helpful to manage an event thats not too big. Its wonderful to be able to do everything, or at least very closely oversee everything - it brings in a great deal of continuity. For this occasion, I did the flowers, and a precious friend and I did the food. I oversaw the rest of it (the set up etc) and this meant that everything pulled together really well. 

The cake was a three tier madagascan vanilla sponge - as the reception was an afternoon tea, we needed to keep it simple. There were more than enough sweet flavours around. 

The brides bouquet was filled with amazing spring blooms. Ranunculus, peonies, parrot tulips, lizzies, and some lilac freesias for her hint of lilac. Below is a pic of it sitting a jug at the church - where you can see the gorgeous flowers a little better. 

The bridesmaids bouquets (I was holding all of them together here, waiting for the girls) were darker purples to suit their dresses. Lizzies, freesias, sweetpeas and eucalyptus made sweet smelling posies that survived a day of being lugged around really well. 

With every event I do, I learn something new. I meet more amazing people who I enjoy working with, and I find incredible JOY in seeing the smiling faces of who ever I've worked for., an everyone enjoying the event.

And weddings, are almost certainly, my favourite! 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Torta Contadina

With Autumn closing in I thought I'd share one of my favourite recipes, to make summer stretch that little bit further. This is a delicious Italian cake recipe that's quick to put together - you can vary the filling and use up what ever is lingering in the fruit bowl or raid the store cupboard. 

It's lovely sliced and served as a cake for tea, or works really well warmed up with a dollop of custard for dessert.  I like to "syrup" this to make it that little more moist, but this is optional. 

Torta Contadina

200g (7oz) plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
200g castor sugar
3 eggs
1 vanilla pod
zest of 1 lemon
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
80g chopped dates or currants (optional)
50 g pine nuts
100g (3.5oz) of butter at room temperature
2 pears, peeled and cut into slices
50g (2oz) dark chocolate chips

Line a 25cm cake tine with baking paper and preheat the over to 180C/350F

Use a whist to mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, vanilla and zest together. Stir the the milk and mix until smooth. Add the pine nuts and dates if using. Stir well to combine. Tear the butter into small pieces (if its too cold to do this easy pop it in the microwave for 10second intervals until it's soft) and whisk them in. 

Pour mixture into the prepared tin and add pears. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden. 

If syruping the cake, add 1/2 cup of water to 1/2 a cup of sugar, juice of one lemon and some lemon zest to a pot. Bring to the boil and then switch off until you cake comes out the oven. Pour over the cake as it comes out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin. 


*When whisking the butter in don't worry if there are little pieces visible in the batter, in fact, you want these! They cook to create gorgeous buttery pockets in the cake! 

*Substitute dates with white chocolate chips and add canned peaches for a change.  

*If using a canned fruit, set the juices from the can aside to use as your syrup. 

*If the cake is going to stand for any length of time, I recommend syruping it to keep it fresh for longer. 

*If you're baking this as a dessert, it can also be baked in a stoneware or glass over proof dish, and covered with custard before spooning out into bowls. 

It doesn't tend to hang around long, but on the off chance you have any left overs, store in an airtight container until you need it, up to a week.

Ps, It's GREAT to be back. x 

A girly sort of cake

Vintage parties are always my favourites to make a cake for. This simple cake is no exception.

Be on the look out for inexpensive, pretty silk flowers. I have a small drawer full and they come in so useful as fillers in fresh arrangements, or like in this case,  as the star of the show.

Pearls and crystal look beads each threaded onto a piece of florist wire and then twisted to a stiff straight piece of wire which can easily be pressed into a cake, add great, reusable instant glamour.

Saturday, 13 August 2011


I’d like to think that everyone has their “someone”. The friend who you don’t have to see often, to be friends.  Conversations picked up like they ended yesterday, though in reality they ended months, or even years, ago. A friendship that doesn’t gather dust, no matter how long it is “shelved” by the freight train of life. 
In my 25 short years on the third rock from the sun, I’ve tangled up a few of these “besties” in my time line. When I think of their faces, my heart brims with love - knowing that no stretch of time or length of continents or breadth of seas will ever change how much I love them or, hopefully, how much they love me in return. 

I wonder in awe at friendships that have spanned nearly two decades, when I’m not even (that) close to being three decades old.  
Tomorrow one of these friends becomes a stow away on my train, even if it is just for a couple of days, before she jumps off again to write her masters and wrestle with the law of human rights, as she works toward making a real difference in our world. She is one who will fight for the silenced voices to be made loud, for the lowly and cast aside to raised up, for all men, women and children to be treated with dignity and equality - she’ll look hot doing it - and I believe she will win. It’s the only reason we’ll let her go. 
And we will pray, earnestly, that she is returned to us, though we know that she will always go where she can make the difference for many, even if it means that the living in each others’ lives is limited to a few, short journeys.
Tomorrow is going to be a great day. And thats enough for me. 

Friday, 15 April 2011

Meet Kylie

I did mention "big news" a few weeks ago - just before the kids got that nasty bug and I was running around like a headless chicken trying to sort everything for our mystery guest. 

I'd like to introduce Kylie to you. She is my new person. She is our friend, our extra pair of hands, our ally in the rom-com vote department. She has been with us for two weeks today and this is the first time I've had an opportunity to tell you about her, and its only because she has taken the kids out an a walk. We have been super busy, and if Im honest I shouldn't even be doing this right now! But I cant resist. 

She will be with us until September. Longer if I have my way! 

We took her to London's Bourough Market, and a stroll down the South Bank of the Thames, starting at Hayes Galleria. The boys enjoying taking in the battle ship HMS Belfast before settling at a sweet french seafood restaurant for lunch with the kids. Asher stole my calamari pan starter and demolished it, with a fork. 

The market was busy so I didn't get many pictures, but I couldn't resist these French sisters delights. I might have bought three of those tarts and not shared. 

We are delighted to have our sweet new addition - not least of all because I got to do up a VERY girly room! More on that when I find the pictures I took of it. For now, take in this gorgeous London market!

JOY! for the arrival of figs. They land up in breakfast, salads, desserts, preserves, cakes, meat mains and anything else I can sneak them into over the summer. 

Our time at the Tate might have run smoother had people paid attention to the sign below. Needless to say, liftfulls of able bodies adults took the lift ahead of us and our pushchair. No less than FIVE liftfulls. 

The view from the third floor of the gallery through the original power plant windows is something to behold. I love London Symmetry when you find it. This kind of symmetry is ALL OVER Paris, but finding it in London is a little more challenging. 

We finished our day at a fascinating exhibition with over a million hand crafted porcelain sunflower seeds. Read about it here. Each one individual. So special. Come on, follow that link. 

I Im hosting two showers this weekend and catering and doing the flowers for a wedding next weekend so you may not see much of me, but Im thinking of you all! Much love ladies xxx

Sunday, 10 April 2011


This week we celebrated four years of marriage. We have spent 204 weeks together as husband and wife. 204 saturday mornings, many of which were not lie ins. I estimate that we have had at least 204 arguments. 

We've had 48 pay days, many spent trusting God for the miraculous in our finance. He has never, ever not come through. 

18 months of pregnancy. 24 months of breastfeeding. 14 weeks recovering from caesarean sections. Two children's first breaths, steps and words. One first day of school. 

We have had three home addresses. 

Less than a dozen date nights. 

We have spent a total of 21 weeks of our married life on different continents to each other. 

We have hosted people in our home 34 times, that excludes friends visiting us on vacation. 

I have spent more than 500 hours shopping for food, and more than 3000 hours preparing it. We have cooked many meals and washed lots of dishes. We have also done LOTS of laundry.

I've driven just under 10 000 miles on british roads, yet never taken our car further than three hours away from home. 

Looking at it like that our four years seem mundane. Full to the brim with ordinary. And in many ways it has been - most of life is ordinary. Full of chores, work, struggles and challenges, but, with each challenge, we have over come. In each battle we have found victory and there in lies the reason our life has felt extraordinary. So full of joy and adventure. 

We're  only 10% of the way to our 40 year anniversary, when I may feel old and wise enough to give you advise on marriage. For now I have just this to share: Looking at these photos I'm reminded of how we've made it though 204 weeks of the mundane. While the moments of inconceivable joy have played their part in sustaining us through the ordinary, the real reason we still wake up in the same bed is what happened on the 7th of April 2007. 

We made a choice. To love, to honour, to cherish, to trust, to be a leader, to be lead. And every morning when we wake up, we make that choice all over again. We honour each other as belonging to Christ. We honour our promise that we made before Him. And sometimes we don't. But then we ask for forgiveness and then we make that choice again. We work through the tough times. We dance in the kitchen in the middle of washing up dinner dishes. We bless each other with our "mundane" choices. He picks up his socks. I buy our food. And somehow, in all of that, He pours out more and more love and we fall deeper and deeper into it. 

I never imagined it could get sweeter yet, each year that passes, it does. Thank you Lord for your blessing over us. We love you. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

One Month

Its been a whole month since I had my lovely post birthday day out with some ladies, but I can't resist posting all of things I had lined up before life took over and left me wondering how on earth its April 2011.  I keep accidentally typing 2001. I remember writing that date like it was yesterday - it feels much more appropriate. 2011 on paper looks space-age. But here it is. A decade has whizzed by at the speed of light and most days I wake up feeling like I should be rounding up my books for school - not rounding up my kids books for school. 

I "recently" had my first day out with friends in a number of years. I've since had another so I cant write with the same conviction about how much I needed it, loved it, need them more... I now feel a little guilty abandoning my man with spot covered toddlers and heading out in heels. 

The heels in question may have meant that I took a black cab from the station to the gallery - but I simply needed to show the bridge view. You needed to see it, right?

The London Eye, Big Ben and Parliament 

St Pauls Cathedral, The Gherkin 

This day started with a sweet friend (who we have since passed the kids horrific disease onto!) celebrating her 30th with a swanky high tea and the National Dining Rooms and the National Gallery. Champagne, scones, tarts and tea with aloof impeccably mannered staff to complete the experience. 

Sweet birthday girl Caro  - now down with HFMD

After and hour at tea, I met my sweet friend Jules and showed her to the Impressionist rooms in the gallery - a little Renoir, Degas, Monet and their cronies go a long way to making the afternoon feel even more special. We studied those paintings together, so being together with them in the same room brought with it and unspoken magic. It completed a bonding experience started a full decade ago, back when writing the date 2001 felt acceptable, where we longed to have our futures unfold before us - long before we longed for life to have brakes, the days when pedalled onward toward adulthood with vigour and expectation. 

Jules and I plus part of Nelsons column and trafalgar square

We struck gold at St Martins church off the square where the orchestra where practicing some Bach for their upcoming concert. Its a treasured discovery - you can sit in on their practice sessions on the weekends free of charge. We sat for nearly an hour before heading out to Harrods to Laduree for Macarons. 

St Martins

A little comedy never hurt - unless you're the owner of this bike outside Harrods. Woops. 

This is not art work - this used to be someones bike... 

A quick stop in at Laduree and a walk through the luxury shoe boudoir is all that we managed before Harroods shut shop, so we finished the evening with some window shopping. Have you EVER seen such lace!?


I'll be back again soon with more gap filling news - I've missed you guys. x
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